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Where Are We on Setting Up the Loss and Damage Fund?

Updated: Jan 19

By John Leo Algo

People from various countries attending a loss and damage workshop

Addressing loss and damage (L&D) has been an integral part of youth climate advocacy in recent years. It is an issue that has climate justice at its heart and soul, a reality born out of risks and impacts becoming too extreme beyond the current capacities of adaptation or mitigation.

We, as young people around the world, have been calling on world leaders to commit to averting and/or minimizing L&D. We demand that big polluters, the ones responsible for the climate crisis, be held accountable and pay for their harmful activities, for the benefit of the most vulnerable countries and communities.

At COP27, the world took a big step forward in achieving these goals as Parties finally agreed to establish funding arrangements to deal with L&D.

Yet even after three decades of contentious negotiations, that may have actually been the easy part. For the next few months, the world is faced with the task of shaping what the L&D funding facility (LDFF) would look like and how it would operate.

international people at a loss and damage workshop in bangkok, thailand

Are we making enough progress?

There are a few opportunities for the youth to directly give their inputs into the process of developing the LDFF, as overseen by the Transitional Committee (TC). Aside from either submitting inputs through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) portal or directly communicating with TC members, a few sector representatives are allowed to participate in the meetings and workshops leading up to COP28 in Dubai.

A recent workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, on 15-16 July provided a close look into the progress of the establishment of said funding mechanism. While the TC set its agenda on discussing governance arrangements and ensuring complementarity, coherence, and coordination, delegates covered all aspects of the LDFF during the discussions.

Compared to the situation this time last year when L&D could barely make it into the agenda of UN climate events, it can be said that some improvements have been made in the conduct of discussions regarding this issue.

No one can deny the urgency of setting up this fund and mobilizing more resources, especially with the needs of developing countries now estimated at trillions of dollars. Most, if not all delegates agree that L&D funding must be new, additional, predictable, and sufficient, which is consistent with what the youth are calling for.

Delegates also agree that L&D responses at the global and national levels have to complement actions on the ground. This would require strengthening country-driven approaches to multiple aspects related to L&D, such as proper data collection and management, conducting climate risk assessments, and attracting more investments for climate-resilient infrastructures to lower future risks.

As observed in countless other global climate dialogues, with some ideas gaining widespread support came more questions and disagreements.

For example, most called for the LDFF to be a new operating entity under the UNFCCC to ensure that it abides by core principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities.

However, a few others raised concerns about how this would affect the speed of not only setting up this fund but also its disbursement, leading to their recommendation of it being hosted by an existing entity.

A developed country representative also used Article 4 of the UNFCCC to claim that the commitments of developed countries are only for adaptation and mitigation. Some delegates quickly pointed out that the failure of developed nations to fully live up to this commitment for decades created the need for an L&D-focused fund to begin with.

Parties also argued about how certain countries would contribute to the LDFF. Many delegates emphasized the obligatory role of developed countries to provide money for this mechanism, with developing countries only on a voluntary basis.

international people at a loss and damage workshop in bangkok, thailand

How do we move forward?

A key message emerging from this workshop is the need for Parties to reexamine current climate governance frameworks formed by outdated contexts. With L&D being an intergenerational issue to be addressed, conventional attitudes and approaches simply would not be enough.

As a dynamic workstream that will evolve over time, addressing L&D would be influenced by not only the severity of climate risks and impacts but also how the capacities of countries and communities to adapt and mitigate would change. As such, the LDFF itself has to be flexible enough in terms of its funding sources and its ability to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable.

The ultimate goal of the LDFF should be the restoration of human dignity, to make the most vulnerable peoples feel safe and secure enough to once more pursue sustainable living. Whatever the recommendations of the TC would be coming out of this workshop and all of its other meetings, whatever the eventual COP28 decision text would look like, this must not be lost in translation in any generation.

As a negotiator from a highly vulnerable nation once said, someone is already paying for L&D – the most vulnerable peoples, the victims of climate-related disasters, the ones least responsible for the climate crisis.

Until they get the payment and support to avoid going through such tragedies again, the world will continue to fall short of addressing L&D.

international people at a loss and damage workshop in bangkok, thailand

John Leo is the Deputy Executive Director for Programs and Campaigns of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines and a member of both Aksyon Klima Pilipinas and the Asia-Pacific Youth Advisory Group for Environmental and Climate Justice. He served as the YOUNGO representative to the second workshop on addressing loss and damage in the context of decisions 2/CP.27 and 2/CMA.4, held in Bangkok, Thailand.


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